Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

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Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Feb 26, 2007 4:49 pm

I had to squeeze this one in, as consensus is that Santa Fe is the #2 ski hill in New Mexico. It's a nice enough area, but the distance up to #1 Taos is a large gap, and it's understandable why expert local snowboarders are so aggrieved.

The area has a 1/2 hour access road to its base elevation of 10,300 feet. From the base is a 900 foot low intermediate lift that had most of the traffic on this quiet Thursday. The higher lifts are 1500 vertical to a 12,000 foot summit with average intermediate pitch but several runs like Avalanche Bowl have short steep spots. Exposure is about half north and half west. At the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo range there are panoramic views to the south and west of over 100 miles, similar to those from Ski Apache near Ruidoso 200+ miles to the south.

Santa Fe is steeper than Ski Apache and reminded me more of Arizona Snowbowl. It's somewhat better than Snowbowl due to spreading out a bit more and having more north and less west exposure. It had not snowed in a week but all the north facing terrain was packed powder. Groomed runs were in great shape and remained so all day with the light midweek traffic. With high overcast and a light breeze ungroomed west facing runs remained crunchy up to my 2PM departure for Taos.

The tree line in New Mexico is very high, as an adjacent peak to the north was thickly forested to 12,000 feet. Thus most skiing is confined to trails, which will bump up in absence of grooming. As an example Parachute had consistent intermediate pitch, but I needed several rest stops in the bumps on my first day at this lung-busting altitude. On the south boundary of the area is Big Tesuque Bowl, a more open gladed area which continues out of bounds to the access road a couple of miles below the ski area. It faced west and had sun crust so I was not tempted.
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Feb 28, 2007 12:59 am

pics

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Early morning groomer under Super Chief.
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Upper mountain served by 1500 vertical Tesuque and Millennium chairs.
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Sign at top of Super Chief, showing views as far away as the Arizona and Colorado borders.
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Avalanche Bowl at right, one of Santa Fe's steeper runs.
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View a few turns down from the top of the Tesuque chair.
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Looking down groomed Gayway to the top of Super Chief and Santa Fe in background.
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Looking down the bumps on Parachute.
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More bumps lower down on Parachute.
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http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby Judz » Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:09 pm

I know it's lame, but I can't help but laugh at the run called "GAYWAY"
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:37 pm

If you're gonna do a groomed blue square, you could do far worse than Gayway.

FWIW, I liked Santa Fe. It's about as big as many EC hills, but with nice views of the desert.
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Ryan From LA Gettin' Busy on Gayway
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:58 am

Yes, Gayway is a very nice blue square with great views. I did wonder about the name, since the city of Santa Fe does have a Laguna Beach/Key West/Provincetown type resort reputation.

It's about as big as many EC hills
Yes, just another example of an area considered small in the West that would be among the "stars" if it were in the East.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby ChrisC » Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:43 pm

Sante Fe is a nice little mountain.

I had read that you ski off the back (west side?) down to the access road. Looks interesting.

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Re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby lookn4powder » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:17 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:... as consensus is that Santa Fe is the #2 ski hill in New Mexico. It's a nice enough area, but the distance up to #1 Taos is a large gap, and it's understandable why expert local snowboarders are so aggrieved.


As my very recent (I've got to write this up!) re-visit to NM reminded me, there is indeed a large gap between Taos and all the other NM areas; however, I favor Pajarito over Santa Fe largely because the empty slopes your pictures depict are atypical in my experience. Generally, the Santa Fe ski area is crowded (particularly in March), lifts have long lift lines, and some areas, such as the Parachute run out, converge with several trials. Collisions are a hazard.

Pajarito has great straight drops. The bumps are pretty regular, in part, due to the high quality skiers who make them. The area is relatively empty and preserves good snow due to its limited operations, i.e., Friday-Sunday, 1/2 open Wednesdays, and some holidays. Although the terrain is in some ways less interesting than Santa Fe, it provides a better overall experience on most weekends.

Finally, although Pajarito's views are slightly diminished compared to those of the 1990's (before the fire), one can still experience great desert views. If one looks carefully, one can see the great caldera remaining from the volcano that blew up and rained down the 50 cubic miles of earth that formed the local mesas (including Bandelier).

Cheers,
Jeff
When encountering a skier, turn. Same goes for a tree.
-2nd Law of Skiing
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:12 pm

I was at Santa Fe on a Thursday, and the upper mountain was very empty. The new Millennium lift adds hardly any terrain; it was probably built to relieve weekend lift lines. Arizona Snowbowl is even more sensitive to crowds with only one upper lift instead of two. But I skied there on a Saturday, March 31, 2001 and it was also empty.

We went to Bandelier in 1993; we did not have time to check out Pajarito then. From what I've heard it's probably next on the list in NM, better than Angel Fire, Red River, etc. Ski Apache is slightly larger than Santa Fe, though it's flatter on average. Well worth a day if you're down there to see White Sands and/or Carlsbad Caverns as Adam and I did in 1993.

Logistics compelled Sandia Peak last Sunday with the 4:40PM flight. Sandia is way below Santa Fe or Ski Apache from a ski perspective. But that tram ride is scenic and if you're in Albuquerque for a few hours, check it out.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Re: re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:15 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Yes, just another example of an area considered small in the West that would be among the "stars" if it were in the East.


I wouldn't say that. With 1,725 vertical and its layout, Santa Fe is in the league of Orford, Gore, or Pico -- places I'd call mid-sized East areas.
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re: Ski Santa Fe, NM 2/22/07

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:23 pm

Vertical is an incomplete measure of ski area terrain. For example Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows are both under 2,000 vertical but vastly exceed anything in the East for quantity and variety of terrain.

Santa Fe, as primarily a trail complex, is more aptly compared to eastern ski areas. In acreage it's similar to Stowe or MRG, and similarly some but not all of the trees are skiable. So in this comparison the slightly greater vertical of the latter 2 areas is an accurate representation of steeper average pitch.

The comparison in snowfall is coincidently analogous in these examples. Santa Fe gets less snow than Stowe/MRG and of course Kirkwood and Alpine get much more.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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